B.J. Upton

Fredi Gonzalez

UPDATE: Frank Wren likely to be fired by the Braves, Fredi Gonzalez likely to stay


UPDATE: Dave O’Brien believes — and he tends to be right about such things — that the Braves will fire Frank Wren, possibly as soon as this morning. He expects Fredi Gonzalez to stay, but several coaches to be let go.

9:15 AM: The three guys who probably write the most about the Braves are Dave O’Brien and Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Mark Bowman of MLB.com. All three of them seem to be saying the same thing today: Fredi Gonzalez and/or Frank Wren are out in Atlanta. First Bradley:

I’m never comfortable with suggesting a team has “quit,” simply because I’m not a mind-reader. Sometimes you’re outplayed. Sometimes you’re unlucky. Sometimes the other team is just better than you. That said …

For argument’s sake, let’s say a team had quit: Would it look much different from the Braves’ past six games?

The disclaimer aside, yes, he is saying the Braves have quit on Fredi. And I am of the same mind he is: you can’t know what goes on in a ballplayer’s head unless they tell you and the idea of players “quitting” on a manager is just as often a creation of media types as it is reality, but jeez man, this has been the most uninspired and aimless month or two of baseball since the Russ Nixon era in Atlanta. Actually, strike that. Nixon had some good young players who just weren’t ready yet. They tried. This is more like the Chuck Tanner years.

In linking Bradley’s story on Twitter, O’Brien says:

Not to put too fine a point on it because O’Brien seems like a good guy, but he is not exactly the sort who tends to be overly critical of Braves brass. Some Braves fans derisively refer to him as the team’s stenographer. I think that’s unfair to O’Brien, but there is no escaping the fact that, if you’ve lost O’Brien, man, you’ve lost everyone.

On to Bradley who, despite working for MLB.com, may be the most consistently critical media voice when it comes to the Braves:

As the Braves have collapsed over the past few weeks, there has been growing reason to wonder about the futures of general manager Frank Wren and manager Fredi Gonzalez. The club has not dismissed a general manager or manager since 1990. But this could change within the next few days.

If the Braves opt to part ways with Wren, they will likely utilize assistant general manager John Coppolella as an interim general manager until hiring a permanent replacement.

That’s quite a chorus. I don’t think it would sing in unison in this particular way unless the signal was sent from someone telling them that stuff is about to go down.

My view: Wren has done OK with small signings and the Braves continue to produce some decent young players (though not as many as they used to). His big moves, though, have been pretty bad, from the B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla signings to giving Chris Johnson a contract extension that he is unlikely to ever live up to. The lineup was atrocious this year in large part to Uggla and Upton and, despite jettisoning Uggla during the season, Wren didn’t do anything close to enough to add firepower even though a playoff spot was the Braves’ for the taking.

As for Gonzalez: it’s easy to overstate the impact that a manager has on a team, but he has penciled Upton into the first or second slot in the lineup 102 times despite his .282 OBP and he has not once suggested in a post-game interview that he’s particularly distressed in why this team is playing so poorly. No matter what you think of the whole “they quit on their manager” thing, this is a team clearly playing out the string.

Does one go? Does the other? Do both? I have no idea, but it sure feels like a bloodbath is in the offing.

The Braves could shake things up in their baseball operations department

braves logo large

The Braves have wilted down the stretch and it appears that some changes could be in store for their front office following the season.

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the team could consider hiring John Hart to run their baseball operations department. Meanwhile, Braves beat writer David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Consitution hears that Hart or John Schuerholz could have an expanded role regardless of whether the club decides to retain general manager Frank Wren. Peter Gammons first wrote about the possibility involving Hart earlier this week.

Hart, who has previously served as general manager of the Rangers and Indians, was hired as senior advisor of baseball operations by the Braves last November. Schuerholz currently serves as team president and was the general manager from 1990 to 2007 before Wren took over as his replacement.

The Braves began this season at 17-7 over their first 24 games, but they are just 59-70 since. They’ll begin play tonight at 76-77 on the year, which puts them in danger of finishing under .500 for the first time since 2008. The starting pitching has held up nicely despite significant injuries, but the offense has been one of the worst in the majors. Big contracts to Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton loom large over Wren’s tenure as GM.

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 6.50.57 AM

Angels 8, Mariners 1: The Angels become the first team to clinch a playoff spot. It took a couple of bumps and bruises to get there. Matt Shoemaker got the took a shutout into the eighth inning, but felt some discomfort in his left side after leaving the game. Albert Pujols left with a hamstring injury. Both injuries appear to be minor. David Freese and Brennan Boesch each went deep. Pujols had a three-run double. Seattle is now two back in the wild card.

Royals 4, White Sox 3: Last week Ned Yost took a lot of crap — from this corner of the Internet included — for trying to run his way into a rally by having pinch runner Jarrod Dyson steal third. Here it set off a much more happier sequence. In the bottom of the ninth inning with the White Sox up 3-2, Dyson stole third base and kept on running after a wild pitch to score the tying run. Nori Aoki then doubled and was replaced by pinch-runner Terrance Gore. Lorenzo Cain then drove Gore in with an infield chopper which allowed Gore to come all the way around from second base to score the winning run. So viva speed and viva Ned Yost. At least for last night.

Nationals 4, Braves 2: The Nats inch closer to their inevitable NL East title. Stephen Strasburg pitched seven scoreless innings. The Braves rallied a bit in the ninth but it ended when B.J. Upton — who was somehow allowed to bat while a rally was in progress — grounded out to end it. The Nats can clinch if they win tonight. If they do, they’ll dance on the Turner Field while the Braves watch. And then, this offseason (a) no Braves coaches will be fired because someone will say “hey, it wasn’t the coaches’ fault”; and (b) no wholesale personnel moves will be made either because “[insert comments about believing in these players].” Accountability for this uninspiring disaster of a season is pretty unlikely. Wheeee!

Orioles 5, Blue Jays 2: The O’s too are within one win of a division title. Wei-Yin Chen won his 16th. Ryan Flaherty homered and Adam Jones had three hits and an RBI as the Orioles won their eighth of nine.

Marlins 6, Mets 5: Jacob deGrom continues his fantastic rookie season, this time striking out 13 Marlins hitters in seven innings while allowing three runs. He struck out the first eight batters in the game, actually, before allowing a single to the opposing pitcher of all people. The win, however, eluded him thanks to the Marlins rallying for three against him and then three more against his compatriots in the bullpen. The Mets old friend Jordany Valdespin hit a two-run single. Adeiny Hechavarria hit a two-run single of his own.

Dodgers 11, Rockies 3: Those eight-run sixth innings will really hurt ya, ya know? L.A. got seven hits that innings, including a Justin Turner two-run double. Matt Kemp hit a homer. He also had words with Yasiel Puig in the dugout over something no one would talk about afterward. I presume it was about Puig asserting that Pitt the Elder was the superior prime minister while Barney argued for Lord Palmerston.

Diamondbacks 6, Giants 2: Mark Trumbo hit a grand slam off Ryan Vogelsong and the Giants couldn’t muster much against Wade Miley. That puts San Francisco four games back of L.A. in the West.

Tigers 8, Twins 6: The Tigers keep their one and a half game cushion over K.C. by winning their fourth straight. Tied in the ninth, Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera went back-to-back. The Tigers get six more games against the Twins after this one. That helps matters.

Astros 3, Indians 1: Jose Altuve went three for four with a triple and an RBI single, raising his average to .342. Altuve is one hit away from tying the Astros’ single-season hit mark, held by Craig Biggio. Four straight losses for Cleveland. They can start putting deposits on their October vacations as well.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $60,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Tuesday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on TuesdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Cubs 1, Reds 0: Anthony Rizzo with the walkoff homer was the only offense here. It was his first game back after missing 18 games due to back problems. I could’ve shoe-horned a Berman-esque “back, back, back” there to add a few more “backs” but that would not be in keeping with the high quality craftsmanship to which you are accustomed in this feature. Back.

Padres 1, Phillies 0: Andrew Cashner tosses a two-hit shutout and helped plate the game’s only run by reaching on an E-5 thanks to which Rene Rivera scored. This one ended in a cool 2:09. Everyone involved in this one probably has a rockin’ October vacation planned and they’re doing what they can to hasten its arrival.

Rays 1, Yankees 0: The third 1-0 game of the night and the second which ended on a walkoff. This time a single by Ben Zobrist. This time in a game that lasted 3:28 because, god, who the heck knows. The Yankees were eliminated from contention for the division title.